As far as MLF pro James Watson is concerned, late fall/early winter are no time to stash your topwaters. The Missouri pro – a known year-around fiend for a River2Sea Whopper Plopper and a Worldwide Buzzer buzzbait – will continue to hammer points and pockets as the weather continues to cool, but he’ll do it with efficiency in mind.
“Look at all these leaves,” Watson says as he trolls down the bank. “Do I skip this juicy-looking bank and go find something without all the obstacles and obstructions in my way?”
It’s a question that anglers ask themselves a lot this time of year as leaves cover fishy-looking pockets from coast to coast. It’s a rhetorical question for Watson, though he definitely does NOT skip that juicy bank festooned with floating, leafy debris. He just puts down the Plopper rod, picks up a VIRTUS/Jewel 7-foot, 7-inch Buzzbait/Buzz Frog rod, flings a cast at some likely-looking laydowns and guides the buzzer handily through the leaves scattered between the bank and his boat.
“Will I still pick up some leaves (with a buzzbait)?” Watson asks. “Sure I will, but I can manipulate and move this bait a lot more efficiently through all these leaves than I can a Plopper. Those treble-hooked baits are pretty hard to fish around this kind of mess, but you can maneuver that buzzer around those leaves a lot better.”
Watson will go back to the Plopper when he sees some shad activity in areas free of leafy debris (especially if there’s a little extra puff of wind moving water around on the surface), rolling down the bank with either a white or black Plopper.
Watson throws the Plopper on a 7-foot, 9-inch VIRTUS/Jewel Ploppin’ and Choppin’ rod that he designed with a little extra length – that length allows him to heave the Plopper a mile and parallel the bank more effectively by casting in front of him and reeling along the bank.
“A lot of guys will just throw a topwater right at the bank and reel it straight back – your bait is in the strike zone for about 3 feet when you do that,” Watson said. “I like to keep that Plopper ploppin’ right along the bank as much as I can, it just makes sense to me to keep it where the fish are (longer).”